Close to Home: Between the Tides at Vortigern Gallery, Margate

Close to Home: Between the Tides was exhibited at the Vortigern Gallery in Margate throughout March-April 2016. It featured my work made at the extraordinary walpole bay tidal pool, sited close to my home on the coastal Isle of Thanet, UK.

This pool, some four acres in size, provides a free and democratic space for people to gather, to swim, to forage and fish. In my practice of working locally, I adapt the traditions and performance of earlier commercial seaside/beach photographers and in doing so locates myself right at the water’s edge. This is slow photography – analogue picture making – which necessitates a relationship between the seabather and the photographer. Through this series I'm attempting to examine how the local can provide rich seams of imagery or produce what neo-romantics such as Vaughan Williams have championed as the ‘vitally parochial’.

Speaking at Tate Liverpool

I was invited to speak at Edgehill University's Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice' Arts, Health and Wellbeing Symposium which took place at Tate Liverpool on November 27, 2015. My paper 'Reimagining Place and Space - The seaside as a Site of Community Repair' used the Isle of Thanet as its case study and offered an opportunity to share positive and counter-narratives orbiting the Isle's coastal communities. What proved moving and delightful was that our local stories and local events have clear and impactful resonance at the regional and national level.

 

We Are Here: The Best Of Us Commission

In 2015 I was commissioned by the extraordinary organisation People United to create a portrait series for the large Big Local / Best of Use project taking part on the Newington housing estate in Ramsgate, Kent, UK. My brief was to identify residents who were valued by the community and recognised as enhancing the lives of others. To begin with I was regarded with suspicion as I wondered about the estate - and why not?  I wasn't known to the residents and  I would be wondering  around, camera bag on shoulder, seemingly asking obscure questions to random passersby. Through attending community events I became less of an intruder and eventually had some beautiful encounters - most tellingly when I asked who was enhancing community life on the estate the same names were coming up time and time again. I had my subjects and now all I needed to do was to convince them to let me photograph them. The bewilderment as I asked to photograph each subject was humbling. Their contributions to the community was never seen by them as 'worthy' or 'doing good deeds' - it is just what they do / what they are.